Is God’s Benevolence Impartial?

Southwest Philosophy Review 29 (1):23-30 (2013)
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Abstract

In this paper I consider the intuitive idea that God is fair and does not play favorites. This belief appears to be held by many theists. I will call it the Principle of Impartial Benevolence (PIB) and put it as follows: As much as possible, for all persons, God equally promotes the good and equally prevents the bad. I begin with the conviction that there is a prima facie tension between PIB and the disparity of human suffering. My aim in what follows is to clarify this tension and show that it runs deep. More specifically, I will argue that PIB imposes stringent demands—including a patient-centered theodicy—on the sorts of reasons that would justify God in permitting suffering, and, that the historical disparity of suffering indicates that these demands are not met. I conclude that theists should disavow PIB or at least consider it sub judice.

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Robert K. Garcia
Baylor University

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